Monday, August 17, 2009

Hiding in Plain Sight

Like anyone else who has reached my venerable age, I’ve navigated the dark corridors of grief. My sister…my dad…my mom. Being the agnostic I am (a state partially inspired by my sister’s difficult and untimely death) I do not believe that my departed loved ones have gone to “heaven,” and that I will meet them there at the end of my own life. I remember very distinctly, after my sister’s death, writing that I felt that she had just…gone. I did not—dared not—feel her spirit anywhere. …because her family fell so utterly apart after she left, I could not bear to think of her as being somewhere, looking down on that. I knew it would break her heart. As, I now realize, Dad would have been broken-hearted at the strife between his offspring after he went away.

Yet I am not completely without spiritual awareness. It’s not that I don’t believe that there is a spiritual realm to which we are intrinsically connected. I’ve simply come to the conclusion that our current array of human religions doesn’t even approach an understanding of that realm or our connection to it. (As a race, we have opted to define this thing of which we have no understanding in terms that we can understand. And we have chiseled those erroneous terms into stone; which we then use to pummel “unbelievers” into submission.)

I find that when I set aside the constrictions of the “faith” in which I was raised, I can explore my own connection to the spiritual…which bears little resemblance to conventional belief systems.

I’ve discovered that, after each passing of someone dear to me, I’ve felt that person’s spirit contact me through the natural world.

The summer immediately following my sister’s death, I was visited by hummingbirds. I had always been enchanted by these exquisite little creatures, but my encounters with them had been rare and brief. After Joyce died, I had hummingbirds—everywhere. In my garden, and everywhere I went.

I could never quite decide if she was the hummingbirds, or if she sent them…

In the years after Dad died, I felt him in different ways. When I went to the beach, it seemed that I would encounter one solitary gull, waddling along the edge of the surf, or soaring overhead, who would connect with me. And I would always say, “Hi, Dad…” Because I just knew it was his spirit, come to touch me, come to let me know he was in a place of ultimate freedom and beauty—there on the wild beaches of the Oregon coast.

And then there were the eagles. I truly believe Dad sent them. Sent them to remind me of my strength. At a time in my life during which great decisions needed to be made, a time when his guidance would have meant the world to me—he dispatched those great, noble birds to give me the quiet nod that he could no longer give me as father to daughter.

And Mom? Mom passed away almost two years ago.

My relationship with my mother was complicated. Let’s just say, I thought I was…not her favorite child. And our personalities were polar opposites. Most often, we just didn’t GET one another.

So I was surprised to realize, recently, that even she has contacted me through an animal host.

She has sent me…cats. Those creatures at once maddeningly independent, and yet undeniably dependent (upon someone to look after them while they project that pretense of complete aloofness and self-sufficiency.) SO like my mother…

Mom has sent me Orangie—

And Acer—

And a host of other scraggly strays that slink around the periphery of my yard, hoping to grab a few morsels from the “community” cat dish…

And Bozo—the beautiful runaway who showed up at the restaurant a couple of weeks ago, and is now ensconced in my bedroom, waiting to be integrated into the indoor cat community. (Such a stupid name for a gorgeous and obviously expensive cat...but the hubs started calling him that, and it has, unfortunately, stuck. Maybe I should just spell it "Beauzeau...")

I truly believe— in a way not at all connected to the tired, uninspired spirituality of conventional religion—that our loved ones never really go far away, when they go.

We just need to know where to look for them.

1 comment:

  1. And when we work in the yard or around the house we very definitely feel a certain supervising father still about the house. ;-)